China is not an homogenous market, and people from the big cities travel differently from people in the smaller cities, just like in most major outbound markets.
When Joseph Wang co-founded TravelDaily China in 2006, the world was a very different place, and China’s position in the world very different from where it is now.
The Chinese outbound market was only just starting to blip the global radar. A UNWTO report put the number of outbound trips in 2006 at 35 million – its figure for 2016 was 136 million. There are 400 million Millennials in China itself, a fast-growing demographic in the marketplace and they represent a huge dynamic opportunity for travel brands outside of China.
Ctrip had been on Nasdaq since 2003 and its net revenues for 2006 were just under $90 million. In 2017 net revenues were $4.1 billion.
The mobile revolution was still being planned. From a global context, smartphones were not that smart in 2006, but that was about to change – the iPhone 1 was launched at the start of 2007.
Having followed the Chinese market for more than ten years, Wang’s insights are worth listening to. In a bigger context, he talked about international brands wanting a piece of the China outbound action needs to realize a couple of things. Firstly, that China is not an homogenous market and that people from the big cities travel differently from people in the smaller cities, just like in most major outbound markets.
Millennials are a growing as a proportion of the Chinese population. They are traveling more, they like to book their flight and hotel in advance but want to be able to decide on activities in the destination, they are wedded to their smartphone and want to be able to pay for products and served overseas in the same way they transact at home. Just like Millennials in most major outbound markets.
In a more specific context, he suggested WeChat’s Mini Programme could become the most effective channel for international brands to engage with Chinese travelers on-property or in-destination.
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